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‘I warmed to Simon straight away – he was open and direct and he really got me moving. He has faith in my abilities and encourages me to get out of the house, to go on trips and to engage in activities. It’s transformed my life.’
John joined the RAF Police and served for 6
years and was posted in the UK, Germany and Cyprus and he was also deployed to
Riyadh during the first Gulf War.
It was in the RAF, that John participated in the drinking culture that was common in the military and it was then that his unhealthy ‘relationship’ with alcohol began.
John left the RAF in 1991 and went into the Police Force where he had a long and successful career. His drinking had tailed off after leaving the military, but it increased when his wife started a relationship with a very close colleague at his work. His mental health declined to the point that he seriously considered self-harm. Eventually, John could no longer cope with the situation at work and in 2007, he was forced to end his Police career.
Over the next 20 years, John’s drinking escalated to a critical point and his mental health suffered as a result. He sought help from the NHS Crisis Teams, he received CBT and talking therapies, and was a hospital inpatient several times with suspected pancreatitis as a direct result of his alcohol consumption. John admits that he was never completely honest and open about his feelings and experiences and, as he was still drinking, nothing really worked to ease the situation.
‘I would obliterate myself with alcohol and it damaged me both physically and mentally. I tried to get help but as I was never truly open and honest about my feelings and experiences, nothing ever worked.’
In 2019, a Mental Health nurse at his GP’s surgery referred him to the NHS veteran’s mental health support service, TILS (Transition, Intervention and Liaison). The TILS team really helped to turn things around and they made him feel that someone was finally taking him seriously, that they understood, and that the treatment was specific to him - he began to feel positive and reduced his drinking.
Then, later that same year, John experienced three traumatic events in very quick succession – his father very sadly died, he lost his job, and his relationship ended - and this sent him into another tailspin. He made several suicide attempts and was eventually admitted as an inpatient to a psychiatric hospital where he was stabilised. It was then that John was finally able to consider how he could seek further help.
In early 2020, John met with Simon, the NCCP Manager at WWTW. He immediately got things moving, referring John to Alcoholics Anonymous who helped him to stop drinking. Simon encouraged John to get out of the house and be active. He sent him on an outdoor activity trip in the Lake District and came up with various ideas and opportunities to help John improve his mental well-being.
In 2020, John was invited to join the WWTW interview panel to help assess potential new Liaison Officers and to apply the valuable knowledge he had gained through his own engagement with support workers.
‘I felt honoured and privileged to be part of the WWTW liaison officer recruitment process – my input and perspective were valued and for me, that was life changing as it helped to restore my confidence.’
The Covid 19 lockdown turned out to be a positive experience for John and gave him time to re-group and prepare for his future. He hasn’t touched alcohol in 6 months and his mental and physical health has improved as a result. He is currently completing on-line courses in Customer Services and hopes to secure a job at a brand-new shopping mall that is being built close to where he lives.
WWTW is constantly in touch, helping him with job searches and suggesting ways for him to engage in activities. John is secure in the knowledge that they are always behind him, offering their support.
John has always been a talented rugby player (he played for the RAF Police team) and continues to enjoy playing rugby in the Veterans League. He has many interests – he plays the guitar, is a keen gardener, loves to cook, and regularly goes out walking in the countryside.